Duran, Forester and Kleinschmidt

Three mayors: Mark Kleinschmidt of Chapel Hill, NC, Blanca Ines Duran, of Chapinero in Bogata Columbia and Larry Forester of Signal Hill, CA.

At an opening reception at the Houston Zoo’s reptile house Houston’s first lady Kathy Hubbard welcomed the attendees of the 27th annual Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference. The conference brings together LGBT elected officials and political operatives from around the world to talk about not only LGBT equality, but the unique situations encountered by queer people in seeking and serving in public office.

“The last time this conference was in Houston we had about three hundred people in attendance,” said Hubbard. “This year we have over six hundred.” Surrounded by the Zoo’s collection of exotic reptiles, including a six foot white alligator, the attendees caught up with old friends and made new connections.

Wile continually looped footage of a Gila monster eating dead rats ran on the reptile house’s flat screen monitors three out mayors talked about their experiences. Blanca Ines Duran, mayor of Chapinero in Bogata Columbia laughed at the typo on her name tag. It said she was from Ontario Canada, her wife’s name tag had her from Bogata, TX. “Is there even a Bogata, TX” asked Duran.

Larry Forester, mayor of Signal Hill, CA since 1998, said that three of the five members of his city council were gay. “It was never planned that way,” said Forester, “it just kind of happened.” Forester said his city is about 20% LGBT and that probably has something to do with the makeup of his council. Like any good Mayor he then spent 20 minutes talking about how great it is to live Signal Hill. “We’re the highest point for miles around… on a clear day I can see to Catalina.”

Mayor of Chapel Hill, NC, Mark Kleinschmidt, joined in on the conversation, talking about how much he had learned at previous conferences and that he was excited to attend this year’s conference in Houston.

One day passes for both today and Saturday are still available at glli.org, passes are $99.

And yes, Mayor Duran, there is a Bogata, TX.